The cover of the current print edition of stern caused a great deal of excitement in the Turkish media. On Thursday, the star published a title about Recep Tayyip Erdogan. On the cover you can see the Turkish president with a grim face and sunglasses. The line: “The arsonist”. Almost all Turkish television channels, news platforms and many newspapers are outraged by the front page and discussing possible insults to the president.

While the few independent media only reported on the reports from Germany, state-affiliated newspapers and television stations attacked the star directly. On A-Haber, the largest station close to Erdogan, analysts discussed the “scandal” that the cover had triggered during prime time and accused the star of “arrogance” and an “international conspiracy”.

CNN Türk said: “Scandalous cover: attack on President Erdogan.” And further: “Erdogan was once again the target of foreign media. This time the attack was carried out by the German magazine stern.” The newspapers “Yenisafak” and “Hurriyet” also spoke of “repulsive” and “scandalous” statements to the president. The impetus was usually the headline “The Arsonist”.

Last week, an Erdogan-critical edition of the British “Economist” caused similar outrage in Turkey. Most of the Turkish media landscape has long been under the control of the president. After the failed coup attempt in 2016, Erdogan had hundreds of journalists imprisoned with the help of emergency laws and silenced most of the critical media in his country.

The deputy party leader of the governing AKP party, Ömer Celik, also spoke up. On Twitter he spoke of “primitive, black propaganda”: “Some Western media organs are systematically targeting our president. They want to influence the elections in Turkey,” he wrote.

stern editor-in-chief Gregor Peter Schmitz said about the debate: “stern stands by its reporting and its cover photo. Critical monitoring of heads of state and government is essential for democracy. stern is not about defaming the Turkish president, but to illustrate his election-tactical instrumentalization of conflicts in Turkey and abroad.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been in charge of Turkey’s fortunes since 2003, first as prime minister and then as president. Parliamentary and presidential elections are due in Turkey in May. Polls predict a head-to-head race between Erdogan and the opposition.